Friday, 23 June 2017

National Indigenous Youth Parliament - 28 May 2017

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I thank the Youth Opposition Leader for his remarks and I thank all of you for your contributions this afternoon. You have shared your stories of adversity and achievement, tragedy and triumph; you are passionate and compassionate, astounding and outstanding. I look forward to hearing your contributions to national debate in the years ahead. I call the Youth Governor General, Her Excellency Ms Angel Towney........

Closing ceremony remarks

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present.

I also acknowledge the Youth Governor-General, Her Excellency Ms Angel Towney.

Thank you for inviting me to chair the adjournment debate for the 2017 National Indigenous Youth Parliament.

It has been a privilege to hear you speak today in this historic venue. It is always a thrill to spend time in the beautiful House of Representatives chamber of Old Parliament House, the site of the first sitting of the House in Canberra ninety years ago this May.

I want to congratulate you for taking the opportunity to participate in this year’s National Indigenous Youth Parliament. It is inspiring to see so many bright, articulate young Australians who are willing to step up and get involved in events such as this. There is no better way of gaining the skills and experience you need to ensure that your voices are heard at all levels of government.

I have listened closely to the speeches you have given during this adjournment debate. You have spoken powerfully and persuasively, from the heart, informed by personal experience. You are fine representatives of your communities and young people across the country.

There is no doubt that the challenges facing many indigenous communities are formidable. Meeting these challenges will require strong leadership from young Australians, indigenous and non-indigenous alike, with new perspectives and the courage to speak about the issues that matter to them.

This is just one reason why the National Indigenous Youth Parliament is such an important initiative. The bills in which you invested so much time and effort before coming to Canberra have been scrutinised and amended to improve them.

For your proposals to be adopted, they must stand up to scrutiny and win the support of the majority of the people’s representatives. This is much of the reality of work in a parliamentary democracy – proposition, debate, amendment, negotiation and compromise.

On Wednesday I was delighted to welcome you to the gallery of the House of Representatives. I trust that provided some inspiration for your debates this weekend.

The House often gets bad press on account of what many people see as the poor behaviour of members in the chamber. It is true that question time can get a bit rowdy and there can be bad behaviour.

But, of course, the Commonwealth parliament is the place for robust debate on the big issues of the day. The exchanges should of course be respectful but they won’t always be quiet. It has always been that way, and long may it continue.

It is the arena where our electors send their representatives to argue the issues with vigour on their behalf.

You have followed the best traditions of the House by presenting your cases in robust debate. Again I look forward to hearing your contributions to national debate in the years ahead.

Australian democracy is in good hands.

It is my pleasure now to call on the Youth Governor General, Her Excellency Ms Angel Towney, to formally close the National Indigenous Youth Parliament for 2017.

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